Supervisor’s Hearing Examines How City Can Better Serve Neighborhood Residents, Organizations

Supervisor Ahsha Safaí held a hearing at the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee to examine the city’s investments in the Ocean View, Merced Heights and Ingleside neighborhoods between 2013 and 2020.

Ahsha Safai
District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai
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District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí Wednesday held a hearing at the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee to examine the city’s recent investments in the Ocean View, Merced Heights and Ingleside neighborhoods between 2013 and 2020.

The hearing followed up on a July 2020 community meeting attended by Mayor London Breed and city department heads about inequity in the city’s investment of public resources for the community-based organizations and under-served populations, specifically the Black community, according to Safaí.

“Shortly after the meeting, members of the committee reached out to my office to host a hearing on this at the budget and finance committee so we could dive in deeper in a more public setting,” Safaí said.

A number of departments presented at the hearing, including the Human Services Agency and the Office of Economic Workforce and Development. Departments divided the data between the 94112 and 94132 zip codes. The hearing focused on the parts of the OMI, sometimes called Lakeview, in District 11.

Trent Rhorer, executive director of the Human Services Agency, presented data from the Department of Benefits and Family Support on populations receiving public benefits in the zip codes, such as Medi-Cal, CalFRESH, CalWorks and from the County Adult Assistance Programs.

In the 94112 zip code, 29,779 residents are enrolled in at least one of the programs and a total of 6,702 are enrolled in the 94132 zip code. Chinese residents living in both zip codes are the highest ethnic group enrolled in the public benefit programs.

Under the JobsNOW! program, the department found 736 jobs for residents in the neighborhood between 2013 and 2020.

Rhorer suggested establishing a satellite office in the neighborhood to better serve the high number of residents who filed for unemployment initially during the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in CalFresh applications from the neighborhood. He added a large number of residents are coming in-person to fill out applications for benefits at city offices near Civic Center.

“It seems to make sense that we have a physical presence, physical office, in District 11, to be able to have households families of single adults access our benefits and related services much easier,” Rhorer said.

Because of the number of storefront vacancies in the neighborhood, Safai said it should not be a problem to find space for a satellite office.

“Now would be one of the best times to do that given the demand, the need and the lack of transportation,” Safai said.

Rhorer said he’s in budget deliberations with the mayor’s office to look at what funding would be needed to set up the office in the neighborhood and elsewhere.

Shireen McSpadden, executive director of the Department of Disability and Aging Services, which is under the Human Services Agency, said her department is one of commitments that the department is making from the Invest Community Black Town Hall in July last year, was supporting anchored community based organizations in the OMI,

The department is helping to fund and launch a new dinner service program at the I.T. Bookman Community Center that had been funded by the Board of Supervisors through the add-back budget process. The meal service will be for older adults and adults with disabilities who are currently sheltering-in-place.

McSpadden said the meal service program will launch in about two weeks. Up to 120 meals will be served per day.

“We know I.T. Bookman is a local organization that really serves the Black, African American community in the OMI, and we’re really looking for ways to work with Felisia [Thibodeaux], the director to ensure that we’re providing expanded support to that site,” McSpadden said.

Safaí noted throughout the hearing that zips codes departments used to present the data included areas of the Excelsior, but wanted to see more information pertaining to the Lakeview/OMI area. He said he planned to follow-up with departments for more focused data.

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families also presented at the hearing.

A recording of the meeting can be viewed at SFGovTV.

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